Movies & TV / Columns

The Big Screen Bulletin 09.10.07: The Woes of Having a Broken Air Conditioner

September 10, 2007 | Posted by Chad Webb

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For tomorrow, September 11th, all I keep hearing about is this “face off” between 50 Cent and Kanye West, instead of what it’s supposed to be about. Here’s what I have to say. I usually don’t take sides, but my advice is to purchase neither album. Buy Kenny Chesney’s release instead. I’m not even a huge fan of his music, but he deserves the #1 spot a hell of a lot more than these two pricks.

Straight to Video Nightmares

The Contract

Starring: John Cusack, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Anderson, and Ned Bellamy
Directed By: Bruce Beresford
Release Date: July 24, 2007
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rated R for violence.

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The Contract was made in 2006, but sat in limbo probably because the studio did not have the slightest clue what to do with it. It has not been released until just recently, in varying dates, all around the world. So that means it falls into 2007’s library of straight to video nightmares. The film has two major stars, Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. If you are a casual moviegoer, a thought might occur to you. Numerous people ask me this when the situation arises. Why is this Direct-to-DVD when two popular actors are involved? A number of reasons could explain this. One is that no matter how reliable the performer may be, one never has a perfect record, so the occasional dud will slip in. The other is that a quick paycheck for a relatively simple job is tempting, even to Morgan Freeman. This effort ranks up there with his Dreamcatcher role, if anyone suffered through that like I did. As for Cusack, I realize he has a loyal fan base, and viewers fell in love with him again in 1408, but the fact is, this guy is gonna take what he can get.

Onward. The story follows a group of ex-military paid assassins for hire, led by Frank Carden. They are preparing to fulfill a contract to kill someone, but we do not know who exactly it is. Rumors are circulating that the President is in their sights. However, this contract will have multiple phases in order to complete. In the course of executing one of these steps, Frank gets into an accident with two vans. He is hospitalized, and his identity as a former Defense of Intelligence man who had disappeared decades earlier is now out in the open. Meanwhile, Ray Keene is attempting to reconnect with his son Chris. Chris was found smoking pot, and the kid has issues due to the death of his mother from cancer. Chris tries to explain his marijuana incident as if this were an episode of Full House. Ray’s idea to erase the tension between he and his son is a camping trip. Frank is taken from the hospital, and then transported to a different location by the U.S. Marshall’s. You see, all the federal agencies want Frank. He is a high priority, but that doesn’t stop them from moving him in the country with an escapable van, rather than something more security proof. I guess he wasn’t that important after alll. By the way, Frank’s group has welcomed a new member, but we learn that he is undercover with a rogue fed woman named Miles to kill Frank. So inevitably Frank’s gang sets a trap to rescue their leader, but in doing this, the vehicle he is kept in rolls down the hill into the stream. While rolling downhill though, Frank is able to wrestle with the Marshall and successfully shoot him despite the rocks and bumps. If only all of us were that versatile.

Ray and Chris spot Frank and the Marshall flowing down stream. Before the Marshall dies, he instructs Ray to hold him with the gun, and take him in to the authorities. Only in the movies do the wounded divulge all the vital information. Ray debates this for a moment, and even though Chris and Frank tell him he is foolish if he does not just walk away, Ray decides to be a hero. Oh yes, all of us would have been so brave. Give me a break. Frank’s clan then begins tailing the trio through the woods. The group has a professional tracker, hence he knows everything, and can follow anyone no matter what. In other words, he is a genius, but he works for Frank instead. It turns out Ray used to be a cop, but now he is a gym teacher. How the hell does that transition work? For 45 minutes, Ray was a boring father, but now this minor detail is inserted, so as to cover why he is a martial arts expert later, and a crack shot with a revolver. This is the gist of the storyline. Ray, Chris, and his son are traveling to some place, while the villains follow closely behind.

If Shooter was mixed with 3:10 to Yuma, one would create The Contract. Coincidentally, Yuma was released this past weekend, but this is very similar in that an ordinary schmuck is leading a bad man to justice, but along the way they grow some respect for each other. The problem is that this was intriguing and believable in Yuma, and here it is lame. This ridiculously tacky thriller is so packed with plot holes it is just hysterical. For instance, a helicopter crash is included, the chopper collides with the trees, and falls to its doom, yet everyone on board is totally unharmed with no scratches, and proceed to argue amongst themselves as if it was a bumper car ride at Disney. Another moment has Chris slipping down a mountain, yet Frank saves him, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t like these people. Ladies and gentleman, Morgan Freeman is the most heartwarming assassin in cinematic history. Lots of minor stuff is just annoying and humorous. Frank’s handcuffs alternate from behind him to in front in various scenes, one man will be holding a machine gun one second, and a knife the next. Clearly the editing was accomplished under the influence of a few brewskies.

Cusack and Freeman both lend tolerable performances, but the characters are so preposterous and stupid that it will induce convulsions and increased frustration. Ray is a teacher, yet can overpower, outmaneuver, and outthink an assembly of highly trained military hitmen. Sure that is plausible. How about the idiocy of Ray’s son, who continually reveals personal information to this government prisoner, who could easily murder them if he gets free. The primary praise I can award this film is the brief shot of Megan Dodds’ backside. Yes, Ray and the boys encounter a couple skinny dipping in their journey, thus introducing the pointless romance angle. Calling this predictable and dull is a trivial comment, as most of you could deduce that from my summary.

Freeman was cast because he has worked previously with the director, Bruce Beresford, on Driving Miss Daisy. Beresford has also done Double Jeopardy, and although his resume is filled with mediocre fare, I am still surprised that he was left with trash at the bottom of the barrel. The whole production resonates as extremely rushed, cheap, and flawed up the ying yang. Screenwriters Stephen Katz and John Darrouzet incorporate many silly sub-plots that diminish the quality Cusack and Freeman establish in scenes together. The limited budget, combined with the huge gaps in logic, among a dozen other faults cause The Contract to be a sad addition the dependably disappointing Direct-to-DVD catalogue. Admittedly, a few action sequences got my blood pumping, but ultimately were absurd. It’s safe to say this is not what Cusack and Freeman want to be recognized for when they die.

Final Rating = 4.5/10.0

The News Bulletin

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The Yuma Train is First at the Station

On a typically soft post-Labor Day frame, Lionsgate and Relativity Media’s “3:10 to Yuma” lassoed a solid $14.1 million. James Mangold-directed western opened on the high end of most industry estimates. Per play average was $5,317 at 2,652 locations. New Line’s “Shoot ‘Em Up,” fired blanks in its pursuit for young males, as the Clive Owen starrer bowed in fifth place to only $5.5 million. Dimension and MGM’s “Halloween” remake took a big fall after its boffo Labor Day weekend bow, as expected, declining 62% to $10 million, landing at No. 2. Rob Zombie-helmed horror pic’s cume is now $44.2 million Sony’s “Superbad” crossed the $100 million mark as it fell 36% to $8 million, coming in no. 3. High school comedy has now cumed $103 million. Rogue’s ping pong comedy “Balls of Fury” took the no. 4 spot, declining 50% on its second frame to $5.7 million. Sports parody has cumed $24.3 million. Revolution and Sony’s comedy “The Brothers Solomon” barely registered as it bowed on 700 theaters to a dismal $525,000.

Well,I was wrong about this one, but in a way, I’m glad I was. I thought that a western would not be able to get #1 despite the two stars, but it did. Maybe now studios will have more faith in the genre. I am startled that Balls of Fury still managed to stay in the top 5. After all the negative reviews, who wanted to see this? I wish more people would give Shoot ‘Em Up a chance. It was superb. I hope to review it soon. The rest is comprised of holdovers. Next week is a really tough decision. My guess is for the Jodie Foster thriller The Brave One to land on top. Mr. Woodcock and Eastern Promises will probably not perform that well.

Disney’s High School Nudity

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Vanessa Hudgens, the star of the wholesome, made-for-kids TV movie hit “High School Musical,” apologized on Friday for a nude photo of her on the Web and Walt Disney Co. said it was sticking by the performer. Some parents of her young fans voiced dismay over the photo, which shows Hudgens, 18, smiling and standing naked directly in front of the camera. “I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me,” Hudgens said in a statement issued about a day after the photo surfaced. “I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends.”

In a statement, Disney said it hoped Hudgens had learned a valuable lesson. “Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment.” A Disney representative said the photo would not affect its decision to cast Hudgens in the third film of the “High School Musical” franchise and that negotiations for the cast and creative team were continuing. Earlier on Friday, a representative for Hudgens confirmed the image was of Hudgens but said it “was taken privately.” “It is a personal matter and it is unfortunate that this has become public,” the representative said in a statement.

Hudgens has starred in “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 2” as Gabriella, the sweet, innocent science geek whose romance with athlete Troy, played by Zac Efron, is chronicled in the two hugely popular made-for-television movies on the squeaky-clean Disney Channel. Hudgens and Efron, who date in real life, were so chaste on screen they did not even kiss until the end of the second film, a climactic moment marked by fireworks going off behind them. The two movies form the cornerstone of one of Disney’s most lucrative franchises for preteen girls and a third is planned for release to theaters next year. The second film debuts on Disney Channels in other countries this weekend.

I hadn’t heard that Disney’s little sweetheart had a nude photo until now. I tried searching for the picture on the internet, eh hem, purely for news purposes of course, but I could not locate it. Is it a surprise to anyone with an IQ over 10 that Disney is backing her? I mean, the High School Musical franchise is very important to the company. Oh yeah, I’m sure she regrets having taken them :sarcasm:. What support could her family and friends possibly have given? “It’s ok you posed naked, it happens to everyone.” If these were the ones that went public, I’ll bet Efron is rolling in nude shots of her on his cell phone. I am amazed that this is not a bigger issue. If it were someone else, their career would likely be over, and it would be all over the news for months.

“Robotech” vs. “Spider-Man”?

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Tobey Maguire may be swapping his Spidey suit to climb inside a giant robot. Casting more doubt on Maguire’s future involvement in the continuing “Spider-Man” film franchise, it’s been announced that the actor is producing and may be taking a leading role in “Robotech”, a live-action flick based on the popular anime series from the 1980s. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the rights to the property after a lengthy negotiation, and Maguire will reportedly produce the adaptation under his Maguire Entertainment banner. “We are very excited to bring “Robotech” to the big screen,” Maguire told THR. “There is a rich mythology that will be a great foundation for a sophisticated, smart and entertaining film.” There’s no director attached to the project, but the script is set to be penned by Craig Zahler. Zahler is best known in industry circles for penning a well-received, but as-yet-unproduced script, “The Brigands of Rattleborge” — a dark, violent Western picked up by Vertigo Entertainment.

Warner Bros. is envisioning “Robotech” as a high-profile summer blockbuster. THR calls the film a “sprawling sci-fi epic,” and reveals that it takes place at a time when Earth has developed giant robots from the technology on an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific isle. Mankind is forced to use the technology to fend off three successive waves of alien invasions. The first invasion concerns a battle with a race of giant warriors who seek to retrieve their flagship’s energy source known as “protoculture,” and the planet’s survival ends up in the hands of two young pilots. Maguire would presumably play one of the pilots.

Now, I have not seen every series featuring a form of robots in my lifetime, but it seems to me that Hollywood is jumping the gun on the Transformers success and every studio under the sun is producing their own film. Voltron is set and now Robotech. What’s next Power Rangers? A film based on the robots from the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” video? In all seriousness, this might not be so bad, but can we not think of any other plot than one involving alien invaders. For goodness sakes, is no one even trying to think of something original?

Details on “Magneto” Spin-Off

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Alleged story details for the David Goyer-directed “Magneto” spin-off film have emerged online. The Fox-Marvel production will recount how young Holocaust survivor Erik Lehnsherr transformed into the villainous Magneto. claims that “Magneto” “is book-ended with two scenes in Poland at the 60th Anniversary of the Auschwitz Liberation. These events take place within the timeframe of the first three X-films and will reunite Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.” The gist of the plot concerns Erik’s quest to avenge himself by tracking down the Nazi war criminals he suffered under as a youth. This journey takes him to the Ukraine, France, Argentina and Israel, the latter location serving as the setting for the first meeting between the future Magneto and a young Charles Xavier. Likewise, a scooper for, who claims to have read Sheldon Turner’s script for “Magneto”, confirmed all the above information, adding that, “Fans will appreciate this early friendship developed between Erik and Charles, long before they adopt their monikers of Magneto and Professor X.”

This doesn’t sound all that terrible if these rumors are true, but one never knows anymore. I’m not sure why someone would make this up though. More than anything else, I am anxious to see how they reveal the development of his powers. The relationship between he and Charles is nice too, but how did he learn to control his abilities? If this film can focus on those aspects, and his friendship with Xavier, instead of some ludicrous revenge story, it might work out well.

DiCaprio in New “I, Claudius” Adaptation?

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Producer Scott Rudin has picked up the film rights to Robert Graves’ Roman Empire-set novel, “I, Claudius” for a cool two million dollars reports the trades. Leonardo DiCaprio and screenwriter William Monahan (“The Departed”) are circling the project, the pair were part of a rival bid by Warner Bros., butno offers have yet been made. “Claudius” is not yet set up at a studio, though sources said it likely will land at Walt Disney Studios, where Rudin is housed. Graves’ 1934 novel “I, Claudius,” recounts the internecine plots and counterplots surrounding Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome, who ruled from 41-54 AD. The novel’s period covers the time from the end of the first Emperor Augustus’ reign to the crowning of Nero.

The novel has previously been adapted twice, most memorably the 1976 BBC miniseries starring the likes of Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Sian Phillips, Patrick Stewart, Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies and Bernard Hill amongst others. Whether the controversial content will be included in the new adaptation is hard to say. The BBC mini-series included the most famous scene, albeit mostly offscreen, of Caligula (John Hurt) cutting out and then eating the foetus of his pregnant sister.

Umm, did someone mention the name Caligula? Now, I understand that I, Claudius is not the same thing as the film entitled Caligula starring Malcom McDowell, and perhaps the mini-series with John Hurt was fascinating, but I still have wicked nightmares about Caligula when I sleep. It was by far the worst piece of trash I have ever seen in my life, and if there is a lot of controversial material, which if the story features the Caligula character, it has to be risky, than how much of it would be approved. If the adaptation is tamed, I am in favor. I would hate to see Leo DiCaprio’s career tarnished by this. Isn’t Scorsese doing a film he can join? We’ve seen dozens of films about Emperors. Why would anyone want to watch a foetus being eaten?

Phoenix and Gray’s Third Collaboration

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Joaquin Phoenix and Director James Gray will team for the third time in the drama “Two Lovers” for 2929 Productions reports Variety. In “Lovers,” a Brooklyn man is torn between a family friend his parents wish he would marry and the beautiful but volatile new neighbor with whom he falls passionately in love. Gray wrote the script with Ric Menello. Gwyneth Paltrow is in final negotiations to star with Phoenix and production is scheduled to begin in November. Gray and Phoenix previously worked on “The Yards” and the upcoming “We Own The Night.”

What makes this news strange is that from the special features of The Yards DVD, starring Joaquin Phoenix, and directed by James Gray, it kind of felt like they clashed when working together. Gray is a very specific and uncompromising filmmaker according to the actors he has collaborated with. Apparently he was professional enough to work with again for Mark Wahlberg, and two more times for Pheonix. I like James Gray’s efforts though. He has yet to reach his peak, but with brilliant talent like this at his side, he should deliver a top-notch offering soon. However, he has never done a love story. It could be good or bad, and double the risk since Paltrow is ready to sign. You never know what you’ll get out of her.

The 20 Second Sermon

The Pink Panther 2 has a new title, and you won’t believe your eyes….wait for it…The Next Pink Panther. Yeah I know, who really cares. Sony Animation is likely to give Open Season a Direct-to-DVD sequel, but Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher are still in talks. Since the first one sucked, a sequel that is heading directly for the shelves is no bother to me. I’m sure it will blow as equally as the first did. A Spaceballsanimated series is set, and it is supposed to continue spoofing movies as the feature film did. I am actually interested in this, though animated cartoon based on live-action films usually fail miserably. Mark Romanek is set to direct The Wolf Man remake starring Benicio Del Toro and scripted by Andrew Kevin Walker. Let’s not forget Romanek helmed One Hour Photo, a brilliant suspense thriller with Robin Williams. This should be just as good.

What’s Coming to DVD….Buy or Avoid?

DVD Headline of the Week

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Face/Off (2 Disc Collectors Edition) – This is one of my favorite action films, and it is a blessing from above that it is getting a double dip. This is a must purchase this week. Buy

Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Third Season – I don’t watch this, but a lot of people do, so that’s why it’s here.

Two and a Half Men – The Complete First Season – I like this show a lot. Charlie Sheen’s 9/11 conspiracy theory might be ridiculous, but at least he can be funny on screen. Buy

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Adam Beach got my attention as a fine actor with Flags of Our Fathers. He is in this mini series, and from what I heard, it was ok.

The Lost World (1960 & 1925 versions) – This is totally worth it for the price. Both films are entertaining, especially the 1925 version. I highly recommend picking it up. Buy

Away from Her – This received some decent reviews when it was released in a limited capacity, but I did not see it. I’m not sure if I’ll remember to rent it.

The Graduate (40th Anniversary Edition) – Ok, this is indeed a classic, and I thought it was great, but not great enough for me personally to own. I would watch Garden State before this. I will say though, because it is fairly cheap, it is worth the money. Buy

Tom & Jerry – Spotlight Collection Volume 3 – These two never get old in my opinion. I think it is fabulous that their shorts are available on such quality DVD releases. If I had the money, I would get them all. Buy

The Fly Collection – I prefer the Cronenberg remake, but come on, this is a box set featuring all three original fly flicks. Just buy it. Buy

Vincent Price: MGM Screen Legends Collection – As Mr. Trevor Snyder pointed out, this set is a must buy for The Abominable Dr. Phibes, though the DVDs are double sided, which I dislike because they are easier to scratch. Buy

D.O.A. Dead or Alive – This could have been seen in theaters for all of 2 days, but it looked terrible. Pass.

If B-movies, Grindhouse double features, or anything similar is your cup of tea, countless DVDs are released this week.

The Critics Quickee

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Halloween – I was left with a conflicted, but satisfied feeling after this re-imagining of the John Carpenter masterpiece. That original is one of my favorite horror films of all-time, so naturally I will be scrutinizing the remake harshly. To be honest, Rob Zombie’s efforts were not a complete failure. AS his third feature, it could be called his worst, or his best to date. I would lean more towards his best only because he has a relaxed aura this time around, and his vision is tamed. The problem is, this feels like two different films to a degree. The beginning is an all-new prequel storyline that is intriguing, humorous, and well acted. After that though, it immediately copies the 78 version, but finally brings both sections together at the conclusion. Overall I thought it worked rather proficiently. Despite the superhuman qualities of Michael Myers, Zombie has generated some adrenaline pumping frightening moments, and as always, he does not refrain from displaying nudity. Zombie did everything I his power to mold his own techniques and remain faithful to the original. I can see how it could anger some. On an annoying note, Zombie uses almost all the stars from his two previous submissions, but what is bothersome is they look exactly the same, and of course, his wife shows off her derriere once again. Malcom McDowell is admirable as Dr. Loois, but the child actor, Daeg Faerch steals every scene as young Michael. He rivals those kids in The Omen franchise for sheer unadulterated creepiness. This is a violent, honest, and commendable restructuring in many ways, but it could have gone a couple extra steps and been better. Final Rating = 7.0/10.0

Balls of Fury – For all my thoughts on this new release, read my super exciting and fantastic review by clicking here.

Death Sentence – So here we are, and now critics can dig out all their “Death Wish” references and feel smart. Yes, this is a modern day “Death Wish”, but people act like this is the first comparable revenge flick in decades. We have seen this many times before, and we will certainly to see it in the future. The novel was written by the same man who wrote the novel inspiring “Death Wish.” This follows the sequel book to that original. This film is not faithful to the book, but whatever. Kevin bacon assumes the lead role of Nick Hume, who avenges the brutal death gang initiation death of his son. The fact that the teenager was murdered because of a gang initiation was the only creative aspect of the story. I love the vengeance genre, but these days, creativity is imperative, and Director James Wan’s third feature lacks a hefty portion of it. Kevin Bacon has trouble managing the various layers required for the character. His transition from grieving father to vigilante is not near as smooth as it should be, and the complications of such a person is not explored with clean methods. The more I thought about this, the more I felt dirty after enduring it. John Goodman gives a stellar performance as a drug dealer, but in the end, the true identity of this person is simply aggravating. Wan’s camera tone and mood is very dreary and depressing, plus, the score is incredibly thick and tacky as it strives to make us weep. The fight and chase sequences are exhilarating, and reminiscent of the Bourne franchise, but the dramatic elements are just exaggerated and over the top. The final straw for me was the utter stupidity of the police, led by one woman detective, Aisha Tyler. Wan prefers the visceral approach of incorporating intense gun battles and vicious fisticuffs rather than cementing the important message. His technique is so muddled and confused that one if left wondering what “Death Sentence” was trying to articulate. “Death Sentence” proves that regardless of how straightforward the premise, not just anyone can craft a tale of revenge. Final Rating = 4.0/10.0

Movievision Weekly

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History of the World – Part I – This was not my favorite work by Mel Brooks, but is had enough bits of great comedy for me to give it an average rating. The best scene is when he is a waiter at the Last Supper. Find this on FMC at 8pm. ***

The Royal Tennenbaums – I hated almost every part of this monotonous comedy. The narration is lifeless, the humor falls flat, and I could care less about the plot. I enjoyed Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, but with was just dumb. If you want to watch it, tune to Comedy Central at 4:30pm. *1/2

Along Came Polly – At one point, I liked Ben Stiller, but this is where I stopped. Philip Seymour Hoffman is hilarious, but the plot is just horrible. Stiller’s typical crap is wearing on me now. Catch this on USA at 10pm. **

The Omen – The original horror chiller with Gregory Peck was pretty fabulous, and the kid was creepy as hell. Of course the score by Jerry Goldsmith is memorable, but this was just a fine piece of cinema in general. This airs on FMC at 8pm. ***

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen – I have maintained that Lindsay Lohan has talent, but this is by far her worst offering to date. This is a putrid, cheesy, and overwhelmingly exaggerated teen comedy that will absolutely drive you insane if you watch it too long. This is on the Disney channel at 8pm. *

Alien Ressurection – This was understandably the final blow to the franchise (besides Alien vs. Predator of course). After David Fincher’s bleak sequel, I never had much anticipation for this. See it on Starz at 5:10pm. *

The Natural – This is a classic baseball flick that gets the spirit flying high. The score is unforgettable, Redford’s performance is unstoppable, and the ending is magnificent. I recommend you look for this on AMC at 8pm. ***1/2

Based on the Trailer…

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Newest Trailers

Rendition – The new film from Gavin Hood looks fantastic with Gyllenhaal and Witherspoon. I can’t wait. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

September Releases

Resident Evil: Extinction – This was an average teaser trailer. I’m still not sure how this will turn out though. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

The Kingdom – If Chris Cooper is involved, I’m there. Oh yeah, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner are in this Iraqui actioner too. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

The Hunting Party – Richard Gere is reliable, but Terrence Howard is not, so we shall see how this Bosnian war thriller unravels. The plot is based on a true story, so I am enthused. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

Across the Universe – From Julie Taymor, this odd looking flick has a trailer well constructed and eye catching. Because it grabs your attention, I will give this a chance. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – Considering how much controversy I’ve heard, and the negative feedback, this trailer is excellent, despite the annoyingly long title. I can’t wait. I love westerns. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Brave One – This new Jodie Foster thriller/drama doesn’t look all that bad. It has a Boondock Saints spin on it that intrigues me. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

Eastern Promises – If this weren’t directed by David Cronenberg, I wouldn’t care much, but it is, so I do. Viggo Mortensen joins the helmer again for a mob thriller that looks to have gritty flair. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Into the Wild – I have been told many things about the story, but regardless, Emile Hirsch is a young star who continues to climb in Hollywood, and this film could be very moving and engaging. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

In the Valley of Elah – The newest Paul Haggis directed picture does look remarkable by the trailer, but I am not fully convinced yet. I will be looking forward to it though. The cast is magnificent. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

The Darjeeling Limited – I have never been a humungous Wes Anderson fan, and this will not increase that viewpoint. It looks a bit too weird, but I always like to give him a chance. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Lust, Caution – A beautiful, glorious trailer with no narrator. Forget the rating, I urge everyone to go see this. Tony Leung is marvelous, and Ang Lee’s filmmaking should be superb. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

October Releases

The Heartbreak Kid – The new Farrelly brothers comedy with Ben Stiller. It looks shockingly formulaic in my opinion. I am sure it will be funny, but we’ll have to wait to see how good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Michael Clayton – I would put money on this being an average courtroom drama with a potentially superb performance from Clooney. It seems his acting will be the focus, but I don’t see the plot shaking me at all. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

We Own the Night – The new film by James Gray looks better than his previous efforts, and has a nice looking cast with Joaquin and Marky Mark. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Hitman – Audience members went crazy for this teaser trailer, but I was just kind of sitting there solemnly. I like Timothy Olyphant, so maybe this will be passable, but I doubt it. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

30 Days of Night – Josh Hartnett is in this, and that’s about all I have to say that is positive. Creatures and shooting, and darkness = boring. Next! Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Saw IV – I’ll give credit to these guys because they know how to craft a clever teaser that doesn’t give too much away. I’ll admit, I am enticed. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Dan in Real Life – Is this Carell’s Meet the Parents? I laughed at a few lines, but this is one trailer that gives away too much of the plot, and you all know I hate that. I see this failing. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Gone Baby Gone – By far the best preview I’ve seen in awhile. Ben Affleck directs his brother and an all-star cast in the adaptation of a novel from the author of Mystic River. This looks fantastic. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Elizabeth: The Golden Age – This is too desperate a cry for Oscars. It might appeal to some, but I smell a tedious humdrum drama. Oh well, you never know. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Reservation Road – Wow, this is shaping up to be brilliant. Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix seem to be in top form, and the director gave us Hotel Rwanda. This gives away a bit too much, but I still loved it. Trailer Rating = 9.5/10.0

November Releases

Stephen King’s The Mist – The new film from Frank Darabont, and it looks like such a departure from his style. I don’t know what to make of it. I hope it is good, but I have doubts. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

August Rush – The cast of Freddie Highmore, Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and more get my attention quickly. I think this preview might have divulged a bit too much though. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

No Country for Old Men – The Coen brothers are up there with today’s best filmmakers, and this new offering was tremendously intriguing to me. It has a terrific cast, and a unique premise. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Bee Movie – This is the second trailer. It is much funnier. I can’t wait to see this. It’s not made by Pixar, yet it still looks good. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Beowulf – Robert Zemeckis returns to directing, and this film looks pretty damn entertaining. It might be too CGI-ish, but overall, I’m excited. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

American Gangster – This is the one I have been waiting for, and it does not disappoint, and least by the looks of this preview anyway. I was surprised by the music contained, but this new Ridley Scott flick looks great. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Enchanted – This started as a good trailer, but mixing live-action and animation is always risky, and this looks kind of stupid. Amy Adams has the cute thing down for the role, but she can do better. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium – This looks bizarre. I like Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, so I’ll give it a chance, but I’m not sure yet. Is it supposed to be reminiscent of Willy Wonka or something. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Margot at the Wedding – Noah Baumbach’s newest offering looks watchable, but I wish he would concentrate on serious topics instead of just comedy. Nevertheless, this could be very good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Lions for Lambs – You would think a film with such a powerful cast (Cruise, Streep) and director (Redford) might entice me more, but this did not. I hope it’s good, but right now I have no emotion. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Fred Claus (2) – Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti are funny, but this looks like a huge bomb of a Christmas flick. I’ll see it just because of Giamatti. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

I’m Not There – This is the Bob Dylan biopic starring many actors portraying him during various periods. Only Cate Blanchett looks like Dylan. This teaser actually disappoints me at the moment. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

December, TBD, and Beyond Releases

The Savages – With Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney. This looks pretty funny, and with two outstanding performers, it should be halfway decent. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

National Treasure: Book of Secrets – I loved the first film, despite harsh reviews. They are entertaining. This one looks more of the same adventure of history. It’s right up my alley. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem – I disliked the first one because of the trivial human plot, and this appears to be more of that sludge. I’ll see it out of curiosity, but I’m not expecting anything out of this world. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – This might be mildly humorous, but probably nothing more. My respect for John C. Reilly will get me into the theater, but the plot looks blase. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Vantage Point – Hmmm. I’m not sure about this political thriller. The cast is fine, but will that matter if the film blows hard? Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

I Am Legend – This is what I call a brilliantly constructed trailer. It gives you just enough to be excited, and then rips it away from you. I can’t wait. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Wall-E – Another Pixar classic is under our belt, and I can’t wait for the next one. This robotic adventure should be great, and easily superior to Robots. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep – The “loch ness” angle in the story intrigues me, but I’d bet this is a Free Will tale all over again. No thanks. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

10,000 B.C. – I’m not sure if this wants to be Apocalypto or Pathfinder. Either way it is helmed by Roland Emmerich, so it is likely to blow aside from the special effects. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Drillbit Taylor – Another movie from the people who brought us Superbad and Knocked Up, and this one has Owen Wilson as bodyguard to high school kids. It looks ok I suppose. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Alvin and the Chipmunks – I am probably nuts, and even though I hate to see Jason Lee taking his career in this direction, I kind of enjoyed this teaser. It looks funny. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Other Stuff to Read

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411 September Roundtable – This month I compiled the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases of September!

Fact or Fiction – Ben Piper gathers the thoughts of Jeffrey Harris and Ron Chamberlain this week!

Furious on Film – Arnold Furious gives you the top 10 of his top 100 Director’s list.

What!!-This-Column!?? – Bryan Kristopowitz continues his column about…stuff.

Two Tivos to Paradise – Al Norton brings all the news and updates in television that you can handle.

Casting Call – Jason Chamberlain discusses the humans in this issue of the casting call.

411 Top 5-Trevor Snyder puts together everyone’s Top 5 Best Summer Movies of 2007!

Ask 411 Movies – Leonard Hayhurst answers all the questions in Ask 411 movies.

The USB Evening Movie News – George Sirois brings the Thursday news for you.

Misunderstood Masterpieces – Will Helm gives you his weekly misunderstood masterpiece for your reading pleasure.

The MeeThinks Saturday Spectacular – Thanks again to John Meehan for providing my banner

Make sure to check out all of this week’s reviews of DVD’s, Movies, Music, and more!
And of course read every movie review with the name Chad Webb attached to it.
Thanks for reading the whole way through, and make sure to tune in next week.
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